Nationally, Uber drivers earn an average of about $15.50 per hour.
Lyft drivers earn an average of about $17.50 per hour. Lyft drivers also reported much higher satisfaction levels than Uber drivers.
However, these earnings are before expenses like gas and depreciation. Driver expenses vary greatly based on vehicle and driving style.
Although the average earnings are in the mid to high teens, some drivers earn as much as $25 per hour. On the other hand, some drivers earn under $15 per hour.
This variability in Uber or Lyft driver pay is due to a number of factors.
Factors affecting Uber and Lyft driver pay
Many things affect Uber and Lyft driver pay. These factors include vehicle make and year, city size, and whether the driver is full or part-time.
Where you drive Uber or Lyft can affect how much you can make. In some small and medium size markets, $15 to $17 per hour may be the most you can earn driving full time.
However, Uber & Lyft drivers in most of the larger markets can make $20 per hour or more.
These $20 per hour markets include:
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- San Diego
- Washington, D.C.
This is not an exhaustive list.
A good rule of thumb is that if you live in a metropolitan area with more than 3,000,000 people (18 of those areas in the U.S.), you are more likely to be able to earn $20 per hour or more.
However, there are some exceptions.
For example, driver earnings in Houston & Dallas tend to be a little lower than the other large Uber & Lyft markets. In those cities, your likely earnings will be in the $15-$20 per hour range.
Which car you drive, and how old it is, can also affect your earnings.
For example, Lyft offers the weekly Power Driver Bonus, which gives a bonus to drivers who complete a certain number of rides. However, in order to qualify, your vehicle has to be a 2010, or 2011 model or newer.
Additionally, both Lyft and Uber offer multiple service levels. UberX and UberPool (shared rides) are the most popular Uber services. Lyft and Lyft Line (shared rides) are the most popular Lyft services.
However, Uber drivers can also sign up for UberSelect, UberXL, UberLUX, UberSUV or UberBlack.
Uber service levels and example vehicle
- UberSelect – Higher end vehicles – Audi A4
- UberXL – Holds 6 or more passengers – Ford Explorer
- UberLUX – Luxury vehicles – Mercedes S-Class
- UberSUV – High end suv (black exterior) – Cadillac Escalade
- UberBlack – High end vehicles (black exterior) – Mercedes E-Class
If addition to Lyft, Lyft drivers can also sign up for Lyft Plus, Lyft Premier, Lyft Lux, or Lyft SUVLux.
Lyft service levels and example vehicle
- Lyft Plus – Holds 6 or more passengers – Toyota Highlander
- Lyft Premier – Higher end vehicles – Mercedes C-Class
- Lyft Lux – Luxury vehicles – Tesla Model 3
- Lyft SUV Lux – High end suv – Lincoln Navigator
Drivers on these platforms can earn more than drivers who just drive UberX or Lyft.
Not all of these platforms are available in every market. Also, some of the platforms require a commercial license and a newer vehicle (2011, 2012 or later).
A number of studies have found that younger drivers tend to earn a little more per hour.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time Uber and Lyft Driver Pay
Another factor that affects your Uber and Lyft hourly pay is how much you drive. Overall, full time drivers tend to earn more per hour. There are a few reasons for this.
- Full-time drivers tend to know their way around a little better. The know shortcuts and are usually better at routing than part-timers.
- Lyft and Uber offer weekly bonuses to drivers if they complete a certain number of rides. In some markets, full-time drivers who complete these bonuses can earn an extra $200 – $400 per week. This can help push their earnings to over $25 per hour.
- Full-timers drive longer shifts and usually have less dead miles (miles driven with no passenger in the vehicle).
Part-time drivers also tend to drive shorter shifts, which can often result in more dead miles on the way home.
For example, a part-time driver may decide to drive for three hours. After a couple of hours, the driver may have earned $50, or $25/hr. However, the driver is due at home in one hour. If they head straight home, their hourly earnings will only be about $17/hr.
Luckily, the driver can use the destination setting (rides only going towards a particular direction) to earn money on their way home. Both apps have this feature.
However, only the Uber driver app currently lets you set a desired arrival time. Hopefully, the Lyft driver app will add that feature at some point.
Overall, part time drivers that earn the most drive as many of the most profitable hours as possible. In some markets, those part timers can push their earnings to the $25 per hour range.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables that affect how much you can earn as an Uber or Lyft driver.
Understanding these factors can help you figure out what your true Uber or Lyft earning potential is.